Detroit Lions fans will watch the Super Bowl and will have a major rooting interest in Matthew Stafford thanks to his time with the team through the years.
Fans have enough reason to watch Stafford and cheer for him on their own, but legendary running back Barry Sanders may have just provided the most compelling reason of all for anyone on the fence to consider cheering for the former Lions quarterback.
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Much like Stafford, Sanders was an elite player for the Lions that enjoyed personal success with the team but was not able to get over the hump as it relates to winning a title. That frustration, combined with the fact that he felt as if he was finished with the game, pushed Sanders to retire. Stafford requested a trade and has kept it going.
As a result of that, Sanders is thrilled to see Stafford make a run to the Super Bowl thanks to everything he has gone through and everything he has done in his career. Speaking to The Rich Eisen Show, Sanders explained how he has felt.
“For me, to see him in a situation where he’s really just thrived. It’s great to see. You couldn’t hope for a better situation for him, I love it,” Sanders explained. “I think he’s motivated and has as much to prove as anybody in this game. Following him all those years in Detroit, hearing all those questions and doubts as it relates to what he can and can’t do. I’m happy for how things have turned out for him.”
Eisen asked if Sanders would feel if he won a piece of the title if Stafford was to win. The Hall of Fame running back didn’t disagree one bit.
“I would feel that way. He was with the Lions last year, last season. So yes, I would feel that,” Sanders admitted. “Even as a player, when some of my former teammates had gone on and won the Super Bowl, there was a part of me that felt very proud like I played some small part in it because we were such good buddies and we played so many years together. I’ll feel a connection to it, certainly different than had I not played with the guy or he had not been with our franchise, yes, I feel there is a connection.”
That connection is clearly not just deep with the fans, but the players who played the game and went through the same experience Stafford did with the Lions as well.
Calvin Johnson Happy for Stafford’s Super Bowl Appearance
Watching Stafford make the Super Bowl was an exciting feeling for Calvin Johnson, his former big-ticket wideout in Detroit. As Johnson told Eisen last week, he was very happy to see Stafford win the NFC title game and head to the Super Bowl thanks to the fact he accomplished a long standing goal in Detroit.
“It’s great. I’m happy for the kid. When we were in Detroit, years we were and trending toward the playoffs, We felt like we had a team that could take it all the way, especially a lot of that was because we had a great quarterback.”
If Stafford can take it all the way and win the Super Bowl, that is a title which Johnson believes would be partially his thanks to all that the pair went through together in Detroit.
“I feel like it’s going to be part mine too because that’s my teammate,” Johnson told Eisen. “I am gong to be extremely happy for the guy, I’m going to try not to get too shed a tear, get too emotional. He’s been through a lot, obviously not just on the field but with his family.”
It’s clear almost everyone is rooting for Stafford to take it home for the Rams.
Former Lions Teammates Still Celebrating for Stafford
It’s not just fans or retired Lions legends loving on Stafford during his run through the playoffs, but former teammates from the last few season as well. After the NFC Championship, a 20-17 escape for the Rams against San Francisco, multiple current and former Lions players hopped on Twitter to show Stafford the love for what he had done. As defensive lineman Nick Williams tweeted, he wants to see Stafford go out and win himself a ring now that he is going to the Super Bowl.
Linebacker Romeo Okwara was also very happy with Stafford, tweeting that what he has done has been incredible throughout this postseason run.
Both players played with Stafford during a few of his final years in the Motor City. It’s clear that most of Stafford’s former teammates and fans are well in his corner as he broke through and made the Super Bowl.
Whether a former player or a legend, it’s clear there is a lot riding on this Super Bowl for the Lions even though they will not be playing in the game.
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